COVID-19 & YOUR PET
LONG TIME, NO BARK
Would you believe it was nearly two years ago when we posted the first one of these? Yeah. Neither would we. But the world continues to turn and all of us inside the pet health community continue to study, assess and grapple with the effects of the pandemic on our cats and dogs.
New research has helped enlighten the scientific community to COVID’s spreading power both between animals and from animal to human. Our focus, naturally, is locked tight around its relevance to pet parents, and we’re excited to share two of the more interesting endeavors we’ve seen spring up.
(As always, the CDC continues to maintain the most up-to-date resources and watch-outs when it comes to COVID-19 and your pet.)
- While experimental Russian pet vaccines had made their way to market in places like Japan and Brazil as early as 2021, Australia is now beginning its first foray into pet vaccination through one passionate veterinarian’s practice.
- A pair of cheetahs at the Maryland Zoo will begin their first round of vaccinations in the coming days, along with a number of exotic cats, chimps, otters and badgers at zoos across the country. The wide-sweeping study hopes to clue researchers into the most effective ways to protect exotic and endangered animals against both current and future viral infections.
Hope you’re staying safe! We know we’ll beat this thing together and come out better pet parents on the other side.
ANNNND WE'RE (ALMOST) BACK
We know we’re overdue for an update, but the truth is, things are still pretty business as usual from where we stand. Our operations, customer care and fulfillment teams have been hard at work getting our fresh food out our door and straight to yours.
We still feel grateful, of course, knowing that so many of you have kept your pet’s health top of mind with headline after headline competing for your attention. It’s a testament to our people, our customers and their pets.
Vaccines are making their way into the world, and the gradual re-opening has begun. Like all of you, we’re crossing our fingers for a totally, completely and utterly normal summer. In the meantime, here’re a few relevant highlights from the pet world that we’ve deemed worth the read.
- As new information reveals itself about COVID-19 and its effects, the CDC continues to update their guidance regarding pets. Make sure you stay on top of the latest.
- A study in London suggests that those who’ve contracted COVID-19 release a specific scent after infection. You can probably guess where this is going: As a result, the study further showed that dogs can be as or more effective than a PCR test in sniffing out the pathogen.
- Cats, while often showing only mild signs of COVID, may be particularly susceptible to its transmission. One more reason to stay safe out there, even as the world starts reawakening.
- On the flip side, momentum is growing around the prospect of a reliable animal COVID vaccine. We love to hear it.
AND NOW, FOR SOMETHING A LITTLE LIGHTER
From all of us here, we hope you and your pets are staying happy, healthy and well during what’s felt like the toughest — if not the strangest — year in recent memory.
We don’t have all that much to say on our end. And we feel pretty thankful for that.
So in the spirit of keeping spirits… spirited, here’s some more encouraging news from around the great big World Wide Web about our four-legged family members doing their part to halt the spread.
They’ve done it with cancer. They’ve done it with pregnancy. They’ve done it with diabetes. But the question remains… can dogs sniff out the novel coronavirus? (Spoiler: Things are looking up!)
True to their loving form, therapy dogs are helping COVID health workers through the worst of it. To everyone on the front lines: Thank you.
And true to their loving form, cats simply won’t be outdone by their canine frenemies. In fact, a new study suggests that some cats have already developed neutralizing COVID-19 antibodies.
Go pets go.
We hope you’re hanging in there. Here at Nom Nom, we’ve been trying to make the most of what so many are now calling the new normal. (As much as we want to hate that term, it’s better than in times like these.)
Nom Nom, Nommers & news
We’re still working and fulfilling orders with our CDC-recommended safety precautions and best practices in place. Those of us who can continue to telecommute from wherever we’re spending our time. And we’re learning new ways to interact with each other and our Nommers meaningfully at a distance.
We’re also still here to bring you the latest news about pets and the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In truth, there haven’t been a lot of mentions beyond the stories we shared previously about the Chinese study in cats, zoo animals and the few companion animals who’ve tested positive both in the U.S. and abroad.
Sadly, we have an update. Buddy, the first dog in the U.S. to test positive, has passed. National Geographic did a wonderful job of working with his family to share the news with the world. We encourage you to read it if you’d like to know more.
Pets & COVID
Our thoughts and hearts are with the family and friends of anyone who has been affected by this virus directly or indirectly. Just as they are with Buddy’s loved ones right now.
Scientists and medical practitioners continue to study the virus and make new discoveries seemingly every day. Still, very little is known about COVID and pets.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), less than 20 pets have been confirmed to have tested positive globally. In none of these cases has the animal been proven to spread the disease to humans, and Buddy is the first to die while carrying the virus.
Buddy, unfortunately, had a compromised immune system due to previously undiagnosed lymphoma. Veterinarians are unsure if it was the novel coronavirus or complications due to cancer that ultimately took Buddy’s life.
The good news is that it seems harder for pets, especially dogs, to contract the virus. All companion animals testing positive appear to have gotten COVID from an owner.
So, think kindly about Buddy and his family today. And continue to stay safe.
- Wash your hands after petting any animal that’s not yours
- Limit interaction between your pets and other animals — including humans
- If you start showing symptoms or test positive, quarantine yourself inside the home away from your pets the same as you would any other family member
- Think twice before taking your pets to public areas
- And — as long as you're following safety recommendations — hugs. Lots of hugs
WEEK 10 CHECK IN
They say no news is good news. We like to think that news actually brings peace of mind. So, while there’s not a lot to share, it’s time to update our COVID blog entry as the country starts to get out a bit more.
Spikes in pet fostering
There’s nothing new to report when it comes to your pets and whether or not they can contract the novel coronavirus. The CDC, AVMA and the WHO have reported no new cases in companion animals beyond the few we shared previously and continue to suggest in-home quarantine if you find yourself ill.
In fact, IDEXX Reference Laboratories has created a testing kit for dogs and cats — and after 4,000 tests have found no positive results. There are no plans at this time to make this form of testing widespread.
As we’re staying home more, we’re also opening our hearts more. While remote pet adoption processes are taking longer because visitations are not possible, fostering is a very different story. According to the ASPCA, applications to foster pets are up 400% from this time last year.
All things to wag about.
Still committed to safety
Yes, more and more of us are going back to work across the US. But that doesn’t mean work looks the same as it did pre-COVID.
As an essential business, Nom Nom maintained our kitchen facilities and deliveries even during shutdown. We’ve decided to continue the safety and sanitation practices adopted during that time for the foreseeable future.
Additional shifts minimize the number of team members onsite at a given time and ensure safe social distancing practices. Each shift has a separate entrance and exit to avoid any cross exposure prior to the sanitation procedures that occur between. This is on top of temperature checks, increased use of PPE and cleanings performed during regular operations.
Our team is working tirelessly to make sure your pets' food is never something you need to worry about. Please, stay safe out there. We’ve got this.
COVID-POSITIVE DOG IN GOOD HEALTH
First zoo animals, then cats, and now a dog has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the U.S.
Winston the pug lives in a Chapel Hill, NC home where three out of four family members have recovered from COVID and are a part of a Duke University study of the virus. Also in-house are two felines who have not shown signs of illness nor tested positive.
According to USA Today, who spoke directly with the family, Winston showed low-level signs of illness and is back to his old self. They’re happy to have him in quarantine with them.
They cite some of our favorites, the CDC, the World Organization for Animal Health and the American Veterinary Medical Association, so we recommend you give them a read. If you’re worried about your pet, that is. Which, in all honesty, we aren’t right now.
We encourage you to focus on your health and that of the people around you. Keeping ourselves healthy is very important to keeping our pets healthy.
- USA Today
- USA Today
- USA Today
- World Organization for Animal Health
- American Veterinary Medical Association
SOCIAL DISTANCING INCLUDES PETS
As talk of reopening the country is all over the news — which could include non-essential pet care services such as grooming and day-boarding — the first domesticated animals in the US have tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Stop. Don’t panic. Don’t abandon your animals.
Like other easily transmittable respiratory diseases before it, COVID-19 is categorized as zoonotic. Meaning it came from animals (in this case, the working theory is bats), and stands to reason that other animals can test positive for it. Afterall, we’re animals.
But that doesn’t mean that your pets will actually contract the disease or pass it to you.
What we know about the two positive cats:
According to news outlets, two household felines in separate areas of New York City have tested positive for COVID-19 after displaying respiratory symptoms. Both are expected to make a full recovery.
One cat lived in a home where none of the humans have tested positive for the coronavirus. The other’s owner tested positive before the cat, and another feline in the home is showing no symptoms.
Which is to say, there is no conclusive evidence that the disease can spread from human to feline and vice versa, or from cat to cat.
Should you worry about your pets?
Remember the tiger in the Bronx Zoo? It seems felines have a history of testing positive coronaviruses, as they were found to be susceptible during the 2003 SARS pandemic.
But, as experts contacted by CNN point out, there is no evidence that naturally infected cats can shed the virus in sufficient quantities as to infect other cats or people. (Think about the laboratory cats we covered in the last update — they were exposed to COVID-19 in significantly heightened quantities to test positive and spread the coronavirus to other feline test subjects.)
And there have been no known feline deaths, in the US or otherwise, due to the coronavirus.
The CDC recommends:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
If you, or a member of your household have tested positive or suspect you may have contracted COVID-19:
- Restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
- If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
We see brighter days ahead.
CATS & COVID: WHY WE’RE NOT PANICKING
First, go grab your pets and give them a big cuddle. We know that’s what we need right now.
Two things before we tell you the rest:
- The CDC has no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread the novel coronavirus to people
- Experts contacted by CNN maintain that household pets, even in infected homes, won’t be exposed to high levels of the virus with proper self-isolation practices
We told you we’d keep you up to date about COVID and your pets as we know more. Previously, we shared reports out of Hong Kong of two dogs testing weak positive for the virus. The news there remains the same, the dogs remained asymptomatic.
Now, a new study out of the People’s Republic of China has found that cats, as well as ferrets, may be experimentally susceptible to COVID-19.
What does that mean? Researchers found virus particles in their upper respiratory systems and feces, but none of the infected cats showed signs of illness.
We’re not panicking
Our Director of Microbiology and head of R&D, Ryan Honaker, PhD, warns "in general, as studies continue to emerge, we need to wait and see how the global experts at institutions like the CDC and WHO interpret them and what they recommend before jumping to conclusions or over-interpreting any results."
This particular study, performed on a very small sampling of cats, has yet to be peer-reviewed and is currently only being circulated for scientific feedback before submitting to journals — if it ever is. The methodology exposed animals to highly concentrated amounts of the virus, inserted directly into the nasal cavities — without simulating real-life environments or situations.
You might see this research quoted on popular mainstream outlets, but we’re getting our news from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
In the words of the AVMA
- Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people
- If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing
- You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your pet; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys)
- Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus
- Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet
- If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them
- As always, careful handwashing and other infection control practices can greatly reduce the chance of spreading any disease
We’ll let you know as we learn more. But in our minds, if pets were contracting and spreading COVID-19, there would be a significant number of reports and anecdotes coming out of the US and Europe with the number of human cases we’re facing. And there just aren’t.
For now, think of it as one less thing to worry about until laboratory results can be replicated and translated to real-world scenarios. And continue those cuddles.
UPDATE - 4/5/20
The first US animal known to test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 is a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Her positive test was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory after she developed a dry cough. She, along with other untested zoo animals with the cough, is under veterinary care and expected to make a full recovery. We’ll stay on top of this breaking story. Please continue to practice safe care for your pet as we learn more about this virus and how it affects pets.
About the research
bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints of articles in the life sciences, has received a manuscript from members of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and National High Containment Laboratory for Animal Diseases Control and Prevention in the People’s Republic of China. The title simply reads, Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and different domestic animals to SARS-coronavirus-2.
The findings and methodologies have yet to be peer-reviewed and the article itself carries this disclaimer: “bioRxiv is receiving many new papers on coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A reminder: these are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. They should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information.”
By posting preprints, authors are able to make their findings immediately available to the scientific community and receive feedback on draft manuscripts before they are submitted to journals. This is not a final article.
- The College of Veterinary Medicine: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- WCS Newsroom
DELIVERING ON PET HEALTH IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
Like many of you, here at Nom Nom, we’ve been taking it day-by-day when it comes to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. So we’d like to take a moment and let you know what’s new. It can be done in two words: nothing and everything.
Nothing has changed at Nom Nom. We’re still here, making our meals from real, good ingredients. None of our recipes are out of stock, we’re not experiencing delivery delays and we’re fulfilling our orders just as we always have.
We’re considered an essential business, according to shelter-in-place policies. Our team is still, and will continue, working to make sure that everything we just said is true. And they’re doing it safely and responsibly.
As we’ve mentioned before, all employees who have the ability to work remotely are doing so. And all employees whose jobs bring them on-site are encouraged to stay home if they’re feeling ill, as has always been our policy.
Nothing has changed for your pets. We’re continuing to support the health of your pet. And we have great news on that front — experts monitoring the situation maintain that household animals can’t contract or spread the virus.
Yes. Two dogs in Hong Kong have tested positive, but have shown no symptoms or antibodies. The theory at this time is that the virus was inside their noses, much as it would be on surfaces around infected humans. There is no evidence that it can live in a nasal cavity any longer than it could on your phone. We will continue to closely monitor the findings and provide updates as more information becomes available.
So, please, do not abandon your animals over coronavirus fears. If you’re asked to shelter-in-place, have chosen to self-quarantine, are showing symptoms, or even test positive — please keep your pets home with you or with a family member. You don’t need to worry about getting them sick.
Every day is different. For our on-site staff members, we’ve added extra daily health and safety briefings, sanitation procedures and wash breaks. We’ve also added shifts to both enforce social distancing and to ensure every pet who needs food has it.
We’ve always prepared Nom Nom meals based on the number of orders received. And that’s still true. What’s new is that we’re now offering extra meals for those who feel the need to have more pet food on hand.
If you’d like to add meal packs to your next order, please email us by clicking here or by calling 415-991-0669.
Everything we can do, we will. We’re going through this time with you. We’ve seen the social posts crying “Day 5, climbing the walls,” because many of us are too.
Our hearts are with all those affected by the measures being taken to slow this virus and support our healthcare system, because we know there are many.
And we’re committed to supporting our community and country as we hunker down and ride it out. Because the continued support of pet health and wellness can’t be done without all of us.
As the number of COVID-19 cases rise in the US and across the globe, we’d like to take a moment to address the safety of our pet families, our Nommers and our employees. This novel coronavirus has many companies and organizations instituting protocols and measures that could help stem the spread of the pandemic. We’re one of them.
We’re working with two key members of our team — board certified veterinary nutritionist and practicing doctor of veterinary medicine, Dr. Justin Shmalberg, and expert in infection therapeutics, Dr. Ryan Honaker, as well as our operations support staff to help draft and monitor our response.
First and foremost, if you’re reading this, you’re probably concerned about the safety of your pet — wondering if they can get, carry or spread the virus. Despite unverified internet postings of dogs becoming ill, neither the CDC nor the WHO have received any reports of household animals contracting or spreading COVID-19. We are also tracking the news out of Hong Kong that a dog who tested “weak-positive” for the virus has not shown any signs of the disease.
“So for the moment, we encourage you to not be fearful for or of your pets and focus on reducing exposure to people who could be infected” says Shmalberg. “Animals could have virus particles on them if they have recently been around a shedding person, so if you become infected, your pets should likely be quarantined as well as a precaution.”
We’ll keep you updated as we learn more. However, you should always consider it a smart practice to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after being around any animal.
You also don’t have to worry about your pet’s food. According to the CDC, coronaviruses generally spread through person-to-person contact or respiratory droplets (sneezing, coughing, or nose-blowing). While it can be possible to contract the virus through an infected surface or object, there is no evidence to support transmission through foodstuffs. Also, because of their poor survivability rate on surfaces, it is highly unlikely that a coronavirus would be present on products or packaging that are shipped cold over a period of days.
Though your deliveries are both convenient and safe, we suggest washing your hands after handling as you would anything purchased in a store. We encourage customers who prefer a no-contact delivery to reach out to either Fedex or OnTrac to make that request for all deliveries, not just Nom Nom.
We’re also taking precautions at our facilities, for both your safety and that of our staff. We’re increasing our already rigorous cleaning and sanitation procedures in both production and non-production areas. And increasing the number of scheduled wash breaks.
Because we operate our own facilities, we can control what staff are on the premises at all times. We assure you that only essential personnel not showing any signs of illness are in our food production facilities. Our vertically integrated production model ensures that we can react to this novel coronavirus both early and often, updating our response as new information comes in.
At the time of this blog post, no Nom Nom employee has reported symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19. We’ve instituted additional daily safety briefings focused specifically on best practices for reducing the spread of germs for those who must work on-site, as well as encouraging those who can work remotely to do so. Anyone who thinks they might be ill is supported in their decision to stay home and recover as is always our policy.
We’re preparing for unexpected delays in our supply chain while continuing to ensure that your deliveries arrive fresh, cold and ready to eat. We’ve increased our inventory of fully-recyclable packaging and shipping materials. We’ve opened additional production shifts to meet our delivery demand. And we’re actively working with current and alternate shipping services to ensure reliability on our end — all while still sourcing our whole, natural ingredients exclusively from trusted suppliers in the US.
As always, we’ll let you know beforehand if we expect any delays in your shipments. Remember to check your inbox for tracking information, or call 415-991-0669 if you have a concern.
We know how important it is that your pet receives their Nom Nom.
Our greatest wish is for the health of you and your pets, regardless of COVID-19 concerns. We will continue to keep you abreast of the situation, as well as monitor the wellness of our staff and employees.
Please, stay safe.
- Pet Product News
- CDC FAQ
- WHO FAQ
- American humane society
- Spread of coronavirus via food: CDC FAQ
- Hong Kong News